, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 205-216
Date: 26 Aug 2008

Environmental impact assessment of open pit mining in Iran

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Abstract

Mining is widely regarded as having adverse effects on environment of both magnitude and diversity. Some of these effects include erosion, formation of sinkhole, biodiversity loss and contamination of groundwater by chemical from the mining process in general and open-pit mining in particular. As such, a repeatable process to evaluate these effects primarily aims to diminish them. This paper applies Folchi method to evaluate the impact of open-pit mining in four Iranian mines that lacked previous geo-environmental assessment. Having key geologic resources, these mines are: Mouteh gold mine, Gol-e-Gohar and Chogart iron mines, and Sarcheshmeh copper mine. The environmental components can be defined as public health and safety, social relationships, air and water quality, flora and fauna hence, various impacting factors from the mining activities were estimated for each environmental component. For this purpose, each impacting factor was first given a magnitude, based solely on the range of possible scenarios. Thereafter, a matrix of weighted factors was derived to systematically quantify and normalize the effects of each impacting factor. The overall impact upon each individual environmental component was then calculated by summing the weighted rates. Here, Folchi method was applied to evaluate those environmental conditions. Based on the acquired results, the present paper finally concludes that amongst four case histories in Iran, Sarcheshmeh copper mine significantly affects the environment, with critical level of air pollution there.